Sunday, July 05, 2015

Meet Bess Crawford

A Duty To The Dead. (Bess Crawford #1) Charles Todd. 2009. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

Bess Crawford is a war nurse during 'the Great War.' One of her dying patients, Arthur Graham, asked her to give a message to his brother, Jonathan. The message made little sense to her personally. Something about him being sorry for having lied, and, how it was to protect their mother. She doesn't know for sure if he'll understand it either, but, a promise is a promise. So several months after his death, and, just a little bit after her own close call--the ship she was on sank--she sets out with her message to visit the Graham family.

I loved, loved, LOVED A Duty to the Dead. I loved it for so many reasons. I think Bess Crawford is a great heroine--narrator. She's sympathetic, patient, and observant. She has a way of seeing right into people, and, not jumping to conclusions in the process. Always one to give the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. She has seen a lot, heard a lot that's for sure. But Bess isn't the only reason I loved the book. Far from it. For having a good "detective" only takes you so far. What I appreciated was the depth of the characterization of the other characters. Primarily of the Graham family, but, also of others in and around that community and her own. We briefly get an idea of what her own family is like. How much she loves her father, and, appreciates a close friend of the family, Simon.

So. The mystery itself I loved. It begins, of course, with her delivering the message to the Graham family. But that is just the start. She doesn't deliver the message and go, no, it turns into an at-times-very-awkward social visit. Soon Bess finds herself piecing together all the clues of a HUGE family secret. And she can't leave it alone because it's so outrageous...

The writing was excellent. I loved the setting and tone. I appreciated the characterization even if some of the characters were super-creepy. It is a great start to a series I'm eager to read all of!!!

Have you met Bess Crawford? I'd love to know what you thought!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Week in Review: June 28-July 4

From June:
The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought] 
The Semi-Detached House. Emily Eden. 1859. 172 pages. [Source: Bought]
Follow Your Gut. Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler. 2015. Simon & Schuster (TED) 128 pages. [Source: Library]
Grump. Janet Wong. Illustrated by John Wallace. 2001. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Book I Bought] 
Board Book: The Doghouse. Jan Thomas. 2008/2015.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Peppa's Chalk ABCs. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Message of the General Epistles: Wisdom from James, Peter, John, and Jude. Brandon D. Crowe. 2015. P&R Publishing. 240 pages. 
Packer on the Christian Life. Sam Storms. 2015. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From July: 
Lost in the Sun. Lisa Graff. 2015. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
The Great Good Summer. Liz Garton Scanlon. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
My Brother's Secret. Dan Smith. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How To Catch a Mouse. Philippa Leathers. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pete The Cat's Train Trip (I Can Read) James Dean. 2015. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Gingerbread for Liberty: How A German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Foot Book. Dr. Seuss. 1968. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]
Funny Face, Sunny Face. Sally Symes. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Out and About: A First Book of Poems. Shirley Hughes. 1988/2015. Candlewick Press. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The End of Me. Kyle Idleman. 2015. David C. Cook. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible. Brian Cosby. 2015. David C. Cook. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Innocent. Ann H. Gabhart. 2015. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

I read some really great picture books this week. I loved, loved, loved How To Catch a Mouse and Grump and Gingerbread for Liberty. But. Probably my favorite this week was The Silmarillion. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #27

The Foot Book. Dr. Seuss. 1968. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Left foot
Left foot
Right foot
Right
Feet in the morning
Feet at night
Left foot
Left foot
Left foot
Right
Premise/plot: Does The Foot Book have an actual plot? Probably not. It's a rhyming celebration of all sorts of feet, I suppose.

My thoughts: Probably not my favorite Seuss title. Not that I actively dislike it, mind you. It's just not going to make my top thirty.

Have you read The Foot Book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

 If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Gingerbread for Liberty (2015)

Gingerbread for Liberty: How A German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Everyone in Philadelphia knew the gingerbread baker. His honest face...his booming laugh...And, of course, his gingerbread--the best in all the thirteen colonies. His big, floury hands turned out castles and queens, horses and cows and hens--each detail drawn in sweet, buttery icing with the greatest skill and care. And yet, despite his care, there always seemed to be some broken pieces for the hungry children who followed their noses to the spicy-smelling shop. "No empty bellies here!" the baker bellowed. "Not in my America!"

Premise/plot: Gingerbread for Liberty is the untold, near-forgotten story of Christopher Ludwick, a German-born American who loved and served his country during the American Revolution in the best way he knew how: by baking.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. I loved the end papers which feature a recipe for "Simple Gingerbread." I loved the illustrations. Never has a book's illustrations gone so perfectly-perfectly well with the text. The illustration style is very gingerbread-y. It works more than you think it might. At least in my opinion! I loved the author's note. I did. I loved learning a few more facts about Christopher Ludwick. It left me wanting to know even more. Which I think is a good thing. The book highlights his generosity and compassion as well as his baking talents.

But most of all, I loved the text itself, the writing style. The narrative voice in this one is super-strong. And I love the refrain: Not in MY America!  

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Out and About (2015)

Out and About: A First Book of Poems. Shirley Hughes. 1988/2015. Candlewick Press. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really enjoyed reading Shirley Hughes Out and About: A First Book of Poems. These poems reminded me that I do like poetry, good children's poetry, about subjects that are easy to relate to. These poems celebrating living life in all four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These poems celebrate spending time outdoors. Best of all, these poems are kid-friendly.

For example, "Mudlarks"

I like mud.
The slippy, sloppy, squelchy kind,
The slap-it-into-pies kind.
Stir it up in puddles,
Slither and slide.
I do like mud.
and "Water"
I like water.
The shallow, splashy, paddly kind,
The hold-on-tight-it's-deep-kind.
Shlosh it out of buckets,
Spray it all around.
I do like water.
I like this poetry collection because it's joyful. These poems capture joyous moments. Well, for the most part! I suppose the poem about being stuck in bed SICK isn't capturing joy, it's capturing frustration. But still. These poems are easy to relate to. 


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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